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Sunset Blvd. (1950)

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A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

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Top Rated Movies #54 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lloyd Gough ...
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1st Finance Man (as Larry Blake)
Charles Dayton ...
2nd Finance Man
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Cecil B. DeMille (as Cecil B. De Mille)
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Anna Q. Nilsson
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H. B. Warner
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Storyline

In Hollywood of the 50's, the obscure screenplay writer Joe Gillis is not able to sell his work to the studios, is full of debts and is thinking in returning to his hometown to work in an office. While trying to escape from his creditors, he has a flat tire and parks his car in a decadent mansion in Sunset Boulevard. He meets the owner and former silent-movie star Norma Desmond, who lives alone wit her butler and driver Max von Mayerling. Norma is demented and believes she will return to the cinema industry, and is protected and isolated from the world by Max, who was his director and husband in the past and still loves her. Norma proposes Joe to move to the mansion and help her in writing a screenplay for her comeback to the cinema, and the small-time writer becomes her lover and gigolo. When Joe falls in love for the young aspirant writer Betty Schaefer, Norma becomes jealous and completely insane and her madness leads to a tragic end. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Hollywood Story See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 September 1950 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

A Can of Beans  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,752,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Billy Wilder originally approached William Haines to play one of Norma's bridge partners. Haines, whose career had ended because of his homosexual off-screen life, was too happy in his new profession as an interior decorator to want to call attention to his past as an actor. In his place, Wilder hired Buster Keaton. See more »

Goofs

In the scene when Joe Gillis awakes in bed, two of Norma Desmond's supposedly hand-penned script pages are exact mechanically-reproduced duplicates. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Joe Gillis: Yes, this is Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, California. It's about 5 0'clock in the morning. That's the homicide squad, complete with detectives and newspaper men.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Paramount logo appears as a transparency over the opening shot. The words "Sunset Blvd." are shown stenciled on the curb of that street. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Snow White and the Magic Mirror (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Sobre las Olas (Over the Waves)
(1887) (uncredited)
Written by Juventino Rosas
Hummed by Gloria Swanson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A true Hollywood horror story
15 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Hack screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) accidentally falls in with faded screen legend Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). She lives in a crumbling old mansion with her butler Max (Erich von Stroheim). She refuses to believe that she's no longer remembered and will never make another movie. She gets Gillis to stay with her and rewrite "Salome" which she thinks will be her comeback. Gillis has no other choice and things slowly get out of hand.

A VERY cynical view of Hollywood--especially for 1950. It shows what Hollywood does to people like Norma--it makes them stars, tells them that they're great and dump them coldly when they're no longer needed. It also takes swipes at directors, agents, screenwriters, even entire studios! It has a tight quick script, is appropriately filmed in gloomy black and white and is masterfully directed by Billy Wilder. Everybody thought this was a bad idea when it was being made. It was believed to be too cold and vicious for the public. Also Holden was warned it would ruin his career by playing a younger man kept by an older woman. But it turned out great and is now rightfully considered a classic.

The acting is almost all good. I never thought Nancy Olson was that good. Her character is too pure and sweet to be believable. Everybody else is right on target though. Holden is just great in his role. You see the pity, anger and helplessness on his face when he realizes Norma is falling in love with him--and he's trapped. von Stroheim was equally good as Max who encourages Norma's delusions. Swanson however is just magnificent! She has a very showy role and could have overplayed it--but she doesn't. She's mad for sure--but you only see it peeking through every once in a while. When she loses it completely at the end it's frightening. If she had played it like that all through the movie it never would have worked. How she lost the Oscar that year to Judy Holliday for "Born Yesterday" is beyond me. This is a must see and a true Hollywood classic but VERY cold and cynical. A 10 all the way.

"I am big--it's the pictures that got small". "All right Mr. deMille--I'm ready for my closeup".


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How did silent movie stars react to the movie? raginghobbitinjapan
Aging or the arrival of sound? Erniesam
One of the greatest and possibly THE most unique performance ever JPLogan54
DeMille was quite a good actor yniehr
Someone please answer nitinmohankapoor
Nancy Olson IloveMuggy
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